Musings from a small IPP


Vacation Time

by on May.20, 2011, under Operations

Just a reminder to all customers to send support issues to the support e-mail address, rather than to personal mailboxes.  Especially over the next few months with holidays coming up.  The support mailbox is covered even when someone is away.  Personal mail will wait for the return of the addressee.

Thank you.

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The next stage for delivery?

by on May.12, 2011, under Operations, Technology

Sometimes one can’t go out because something is due to be delivered.

With International shipments one does not get the luxury of the 1 hour timeslots offered by the responsible on-line grocers, and sometimes the truck’s depot can be 40 miles away in dense population areas, and more than 100 miles in more open areas.

But as the truck progresses on it’s route and the various drop-offs sign for their packages,it is in continuous contact with fleet management reporting when each delivery is made.  I know that emergency services vehicles check in even more frequently giving their GPS co-ordinates to allow the dispatchers to select the best-placed  responders.

As someone waiting for a parcel I would just like to track the truck’s progress by delivered postcode translated onto an online map to at least know when it is in the area.  Not, I think, a difficult re-use of data that is already to hand.

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Fed up with Feed Proxy?

by on Apr.27, 2011, under Operations

It’s really nice that so many people share their thoughts on a regular basis, and only fair that they should get some idea of where their traffic is coming from. As a reader I’m getting massively fed up with failing to read the blogs on blogspot whose RSS feed comes through feedproxy:

Error message when feedproxy goes to sleep

Feedproxy out to lunch 40% of the time

often one can wait 2 minutes and click refresh and the redirect comes through, but I wonder how many false impressions are being recorded, and worse, how many readers are being turned off?

That’s why I run WordPress directly, and offer it to OA5‘s web hosting customers at no extra charge.

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The end of the Internet is nigh

by on Mar.22, 2011, under Operations

The last block of IP4 addresses are handed over

This was the ceremonial handover of the last block of addresses available in the Second Internet Addressing Scheme (IP4) at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden on Tuesday 22 March 2011. This marks the end of the Internet as we knew it and the start of a lot of hard work to make the switch over to IP6 invisible to the users. There are no free address blocks remaining. The end happened about 5 years later than I expected, mainly due to the massive use of NAT in Home and Business networks.

On the right Nigel Titley accepts the addresses on behalf of the European Internet Resources Centre (RIPE) from Leo Vegoda on behalf of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)

This is actually a scary moment. Be afraid, be very afraid.


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Tsunami “charity” e-mail

by on Mar.15, 2011, under E-Mail hosting, Operations

I’ve just had an e-mail arrive in my SPAM folder that looks extremely dangerous.

It purports to be from the British Red Cross appealing for Japan, but

  • The Red Cross were on the radio yesterday explaining that their priority is currently the Libyan refugee crisis.
  • The email originated in China.
  • The payment method was Moneybookers (an alarm bell all by itself)
  • The payee was a personal account
  • The Payee should have been the Red CrossThe British Red Cross
  • No off-line donation methods listed, such as bank transfers, telephone with credit card, or local collections.

We are tagging these as SPAM, but do watch out

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Watch out for a new scam.

by on Mar.11, 2011, under Operations

As one might imagine, we are long-term exponents of open-source.  We don’t use Microsoft product, so it’s quite amusing to be Phoned up out of the blue to be told we have a windows virus.   Really rather difficult on UNIX systems 😀

To be fair to the gentleman introducing himself as Michael Narona he did call my private line, and thought he was talking to a domestic consumer, but he did have my name which is annoying.  As it was immediately clear to me this was a scam I decided to see what information I might get to pass on to the police.   Enjoy the audio recording

You’ll notice he introduces himself as being from

“The online technical support department of your computer”

and absolutely will not give me a company name, and is extremely reluctant to give me a number on which he can be called back.  The incoming call had CLI suppressed.

If nothing else I kept him from scamming others for 6 minutes.

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Colossal Arrogance

by on Jan.23, 2011, under E-Mail hosting, Operations

Dear Blackberry/ Research in Motion,

I am not prepared to pay you to tell you your systems are misconfigured.  When I send you a note to let you know that you are generating message-ids that are not standards compliant for your customer’s outbound mails, and that you might like to look into it, I expect a polite “Thank you’ not: an invitation to buy a support ticket before you will open my email.

Your reply:

Thank you for contacting BlackBerry Technical Support. The email you submitted has not been delivered. Please find many alternative support options below.

is just rude, and worse I suspect it was generated by the group that handle your consumer devices who wouldn’t comprehend what I was writing about, rather than the infrastructure group that need the information.

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Reduce your backup churn

by on Dec.03, 2010, under Operations

Since forever the conventional way of dealing with ever growing log files has been to move the old file aside into an ‘n’ deep push-down stack, so that for logfile ‘log’ the most recent backup will be ‘log.1,’ the next older ‘log.2′ and so on.   It’s a simple scheme and makes it easy to identify the more recent files.

The disadvantage is that every time the logfiles rotate all the files in that stack change, and need to be backed up.

It’s possible to massively reduce this storage churn by arranging to not use the numeric sequence, but rather datestamp the archive files.  The standard  utility used for this logrotate has the facility built in.  just add 2 lines to your global configuration file:

  • dateext’
  • notifempty’

Now why is that not the default?

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Invaders at the gate

by on Dec.03, 2010, under Operations

Being on the internet is risky.  It used to be that a new PC connected to the net would be taken over in under 20 minutes unless protective measures were taken.  Fortunately this is no longer the case, but it does not stop the attempts.  When one is running servers there is little option of switching off services.

In particular one needs remote access programs such as ssh, and one’s customers need ftp to manage their websites.  There are however patterns which lead one to realise when an attempt is being made to obtain illegal access.

It’s particularly annoying when you have someone trying to steal telephone service by logging their IP phone onto your Asterisk PBX, as they are trying passwords at around 40-50 per second, and chewing your bandwidth fairly well.  And of course if they succeed you’re up for a lot of telephony cost. (The rest of this article is for unix system admins) (continue reading…)

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ICS Calendar

by on Aug.24, 2010, under Operations

I’ld like to send some feedback to Daniel Olfelt author of the ics calendar plugin for WordPress.  Kudos to him!

Trouble is his website contact form has a captcha plug in  which is not generating an image, so I can’t offer him the code to work round a bug in the Mac iCal generated ics files which creates notionally invisible TRNS:TRANSPARENT false events, but which his code displays, or for adding %url% to the elements that get generated in custom expansions.

All very simple stuff, but I hate fixing things and not being able to feed back changes, so that no-one else needs to fix it.

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